Manuela Gostner returns to the Ferrari Challenge podium in Budapest
After her return to the podium in Le Castellet, Manuela Gostner scored another third place in Budapest after brilliant passes in the Shell Cup.
A Ferrari Challenge veteran, Manuela Gostner returned as a series regular in 2022, after spending a few seasons in ELMS, WEC and Michelin Le Mans Cup as part of the Iron Dames project. The talented Italian racer thus returned to her roots in the Prancing Horse one make series behind the wheel of the #193 MP Motorsport 488 GT3 Challenge EVO, in an all-family effort also with her brother Thomas and sister Corinna in the Shell Cup. At Le Castellet, Gostner had returned to the podium with an impressive second place - and was aiming to carry momentum at the tricky Hungaroring. From third on the grid, Manuela Gostner had a great start into Race 1, as she tried to take the inside line to attack Ziemian and Sartingen at the first corner - but had to back off and dropped to fourth, behind Franz Engstler. A big crash in the midfield triggered the Safety Car, when Joakim Olander was too late on the brakes and crashed into Kirchmayr, Scheltema, Herdt-Wipper and Christensen. They were all out of the race after turn 1. The race resumed with 20 minutes left on the clock - and it was a much cleaner restart, with Ziemian unchallenged and Sartingen having to defend from Engstler. Manuela Gostner took a calm and wise approach, retaining position. The top three battled for the win throughout the remaining minutes - and it would be Polish racer Roman Ziemian to seal the win, preceding Axel Sartingen and Franz Engstler. After a solid race, Manuela Gostner crossed the finish line in fourth place, just ahead of her brother Thomas, in fifth. Maurizio Pitorri was sixth and took Shell-Am class victory. But it would be Sunday's Race 2 to present Manuela Gostner with the highest reward: from the third row of the grid, the Italian started in fifth place and took a cautious approach into Turn 1, behind Ziemian, Kirchmayr, Engstler and Sartingen. Her strategy paid off and, after a few laps, Gostner was able to attack Sanrtingen for fourth place coming into Turn 1. She completed a brilliant move and continued to hunt down Kirchmayr for a spot on the podium. One lap later, Gostner was already in the gearbox of the #109 Baron Motorsport's Ferrari - while still defending from the aggressive Sartingen behind. For the whole race duration, the trio battled for third, as Ziemian and Engstler had pulled away and built an over 10 second gap. Under the immense pressure, Kirchmayr did eventually make a mistake and put a wheel off the line at Turn 11 in the final minute of the race - allowing past both Gostner and Sartingen. Roman Ziemian claimed a back-to.back victory at Hungaroring, preceding Franz Engstler by 3.5 seconds. Behind them, Manuela Gostner held off the pressure of Axel Sartingen and returned to the Ferrari Challenge podium - her second of the season - with a remarkable third place. “At the Hungaroring circuit, it is crucial to qualify well and start from the leading positions, and for me, who set off from the third row, it was going to be very difficult to improve", Manuela commented after the race. "I managed to pass Sartingen and then went on to take third place." "I am absolutely delighted. I thank the team because they handed me a perfect car and it was great to drive from the first to the last minute” - she concluded. Manuela Gostner now sits fourth in the Shell Cup drivers' standings after three rounds, having scored 55 points. At 70, championship leader Engstler is only 2 points clear of second-placed Sartingen - and 15 points ahead of Gostner. The next Ferrari Challenge round will be held at Hockenheimring, Germany, on 22-24 July.